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Iranians in Victoria rally against government killings, in support of women

Demonstrations in support of anti-government protests bring Victoria’s Iranian community together

As Iranian protests break the bounds of country lines, communities around the world rise up to support those who are risking their lives for freedom and change.

The situation for women, anti-government protesters and journalists has become more dire in the face of the Iranian regime’s crackdown on personal liberties.

The Iranian-Persian Cultural Society in Victoria is one community working to support Iranian Canadians in the wake of the humanitarian crises.

Hassam Homapour, the interim president for the Iranian-Persian Cultural Society, said the group is in nature an apolitical faction, but the conflict in Iran is rooted in money and politics.

While the death of Mahsa Amini renewed calls for change in Iran, it is only the tip of the iceberg in a situation that he said has been unfolding for more than 40 years.

“From February 1979, things have been getting worse every single day in that country,” Homapour said. “The people out today, chances are their parents were beaten, chances are their grandparents were beaten. At some point you can only suppress so much.”

Due to the country’s mismanagement and misogyny, something like what happened to Amini is bound to repeat itself time and time again. Homapour added that when these tragedies do occur, it is normal for the government to suppress them or lie about the cause of death.

While Homapour left Iran 20 years ago with his family, students in Victoria still have close ties to their home country, where their parents and grandparents may still be residing. This connection means the bulk of organizing is coming from them.

“Most of the university students here right now, have only been here for the past one or two years,” Homapour said. “So all of their immediate family are still facing it.”

READ MORE: Protesters in downtown Victoria show solidarity with Iranian women and others protesting Mullahs

Hossein Reyahni, who is working with the Iranian and Persian community to organize, is still trying to contact family members due to Iran’s internet censorship and blockade.

“Iran is home to my entire family,” Reyahni said. “After this string of protests in Iran, we encountered numerous difficulties connecting. We are attempting to speak for them and inform the public, governments and the media of the reality of what is occurring inside Iran. We will make an effort to remain their voice”

Students are also at the forefront of the situation because schools and other places that encourage curiosity and learning are main points of attack.

“They’re right now attacking schools, tear-gassing primary schools,” Homapour said. “You know you’ve lost a moral war when you’re tear-gassing primary schools. In UVIC, for the most part, at least you can have open debate about most things.”

Still, this conflict isn’t new – not even to Victoria. The moving parts and nuances that create the environment for these community protests have what Homapour calls “so many different episodes,” including the 752 flight that was shot down by the Iranian government in 2020.

The flight, which was hit shortly after takeoff had 55 Canadian citizens on board, 15 of which had ties to B.C.

Reyahni and others are working to organize a human chain demonstration on Saturday (Oct. 30), which was proposed by the families of that flight Homapour said, in a broader effort to bring awareness to the atrocities that are occurring.

ALSO READ: University of Victoria marks first anniversary of Iran plane crash

The death of Amini has created a shift in the Iranian-Persian community here in Victoria and around the world because social media is showing the atrocities that are occurring

“I honestly think that if what happened to that girl wouldn’t have happened, most of us Iranians would still be living our lives,” Homapour said.

But tragically, it did happen. The only thing that is now providing the community with a sense of hope that change may come is the exposure global protests have brought to this conflict that has impacted generations of Iranians.

Hollie Ferguson

About the Author: Hollie Ferguson

Hollie moved to Victoria from Virginia in September 2022 with her partner Zachary and their two pups, Theodore and Bibi.
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